GSA building

Maintenance Woes Imperil Federal Facilities' Footprint

Efforts to sell off unused or underused buildings threatened by deferred maintenance problems   November 2, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor

In K-12 schools, deferred maintenance often hampers the ability of teachers to instruct students effectively. In many commercial office buildings, the issue gets in the way of improving facilities to make them more appealing to potential tenants. For the federal government, maintenance backlogs are getting in the way of operating as cost-effectively as possible. 

The Biden administration is facing calls from Congress to make better use of federal office space and get rid of buildings that agencies no longer need. Many federal employees are coming back to the office more regularly. But the General Services Administration (GSA) says a lack of funds to repair or maintain government buildings is limiting the opportunities it has to sell underutilized real estate, according to the Federal News Network

Federal agencies over the past decade have missed as many as 120 opportunities to consolidate federal office space, says Nina Albert, commissioner of GSA’s Public Buildings Service, “representing hundreds of millions in annual savings that have been missed due to lack of available funding.” 

Albert told the committee on Wednesday that “right-sizing the federal footprint can be accelerated,” if GSA gains full access to the Federal Buildings Fund, where it deposits rent payments collected from agencies using GSA-owned properties. 

Congress since 2011 has diverted $1 billion each year from the fund to cover other agencies’ budgets. Albert said Congress siphoning these funds has limited opportunities for agencies to consolidate office space. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor for the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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